Three days after the Supreme Court endorsed its stand in the long-drawn dispute over Mullaperiyar dam, Tamil Nadu on Saturday began steps to raise the water level of the 119-year-old reservoir to 142 feet from 136 feet limit set by Kerala on the strength of a state legislation.
According to official sources in Kerala, a big team of engineers and officials from the neighbouring state arrived at the dam site in Idukki Saturday morning and began the work of making the markings on the structure as the preliminary to raising the full reservoir level.
In a setback to Kerala, the apex court had on May 7 struck down a law passed by the Kerala Assembly in 2006 to buttress its stand that increasing the water level above 136 feet would further endanger the dam and be a perennial threat to nearly four million people living downstream.
Mullaperiyar dam and its 999-year-long water lease agreement entered into between erstwhile royal regime of Travancore and the Madras Presidency had been a bone of contention between the two states for quite some time.
Kerala has been pressing for construction of a new dam to replace the existing one, but the Supreme Court held that the reservoir was safe and allowed the Tamil Nadu Government to raise the water level to 142 feet and ultimately to 152 feet after completion of strengthening measures.
Disappointed with the verdict, the Congress-led UDF Government in Kerala has decided to file a review petition in the apex court.